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1601 (Mark Twain)

From Academic Kids

[Date: 1601.] Conversation, as it was the Social Fireside, in the Time of the Tudors. or simply 1601 is the title of a humorous work by Mark Twain, first published anonymously in 1880, and finally claimed by Twain in 1906.

Written as an extract from the diary of one of Queen Elizabeth's servants, 1601 was, according to Edward Wagenknecht, "the most famous piece of pornography in American literature." It was more ribaldry than pornography, however; its content was more in the nature of irreverent and vulgar comedic shock than of "obscene" erotica. Nevertheless, in the United States, prior to the court decisions (1959-1966) that legalized the publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer, and Fanny Hill, the book continued to be considered unprintable, and circulated clandestinely in privately-printed, limited editions. Its characterization as "pornography" would be satirized in 1939 by Franklin J. Meine in the introduction to an edition of the work.

Excerpt

According to the diarist,

In ye heat of ye talk it befel yt one did breake wind, yielding an exceding mightie and distresfull stink, whereat all did laugh full sore.

The Queen inquires as to the source, and receives various replies. Lady Alice says

"Good your grace, an' I had room for such a thundergust within mine ancient bowels, 'tis not in reason I coulde discharge ye same and live to thank God for yt He did choose handmaid so humble whereby to shew his power. Nay, 'tis not I yt have broughte forth this rich o'ermastering fog, this fragrant gloom, so pray you seeke ye further."

From there, the talk proceeds to jokes about "maidenheddes," cod-pieces, bollocks, arses, "tools," and includes three of George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television."

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